November 1st, 2011

The Sides Have It


The first of November! The lure of the Feast!

A couple of years ago, Kim Severson and Julia Moskin, food writers at the New York Times, staged a battle: Turkey vs. Sides. Which brought more happiness to the Thanksgiving table, the noble bird or its myriad accompaniments?

Now I ‘m not one to take sides; I want ‘em all. One is incomplete without the others. But, if pressed to choose, I must say that I’d rather have a table full of exciting side dishes than a roast turkey. And, for the vegetarian in our household, there’s no contest. The sides have it.

With the onset of each holiday season, I know that there will be constants–certain beloved dishes that appear during this time, and vanish until the next. (Like Cornbread Dressing. Cranberry-Walnut Relish. Pumpkin Pie. )

But I like change. With side dishes, those supporting players to the Big Feast, there’s the opportunity to introduce variety. It’s good to bring something new to the table, while still upholding treasured traditions.

Today I’m sharing two terrific side dishes that I made recently for our potluck. I want to put them out there early, for your consideration. Both use lesser known, seasonal ingredients. Either would bring happiness to the holiday table.


First up: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Pear, Shallots, Sage, and Hazelnuts. I have Gigi to thank for this one. Adding Red Pear to the mix is pure inspiration, a wonderful flavor balance, and color-wise, a true holiday beauty.



I’ve roasted and sauteed everything in olive oil. You could make this with butter–which would become brown butter—and I wouldn’t blame you for that. Brown butter!

But, the shallots, toasty hazelnuts, sage, and fragrant pear bites bring a rich harmony of flavors to the brussels, in a more healthful way.

I know what you’re thinking. For a long time, I wasn’t crazy about brussels sprouts either. This dish could change your mind. Even those who usually turn their noses up at the very thought of “little cabbages” relished the savory-sweet combination.

Next up: Roasted Baby Yukon Potatoes, Harukei Turnips, and Thyme


It’s been a while since I’ve written about these remarkable turnips that Tally grows each year. Petite, white, and earthy-sweet, they defy all my former notions and experiences with the lowly turnip. ( I have bitter, bitter associations with ill-prepared gratins from my youth.)

Harukeis are naturally mild and sweet. Roasting only coaxes that out all the more. And they pair beautifully with potatoes.

When simply roasted in a little olive oil with buttery yukon golds and fresh thyme, the turnips burst with juicy sweetness.


I first made this dish for the Fretboard Journal Local Farm Feast last month. Another time, I added roasted cauliflower and onions to the batch. This made a very tasty melange, and visually worked as an “all white” vegetable dish.

In the process, I realized that I liked the roasted harukei turnips better than the potatoes. Kind of shocking, I know. I wished I had included more of them in the dish, and fewer spuds. That’s how delicious they are.



1 lb. fresh Brussels Sprouts, washed, dried, ends trimmed
1 large Red Pear, firm but ripe–cored (not peeled) and diced medium
2 medium, (or 1 large) Shallots, diced small
1/2 cup chopped Hazelnuts
1 bundle fresh Sage leaves
Olive oil

Place brussels sprouts on a baking pan and lightly coat with olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and place in a preheated 325 degree. Allow to slow roast for about 25 minutes. Outer leaves will get crispy-brown, and the interior will be firm but tender.

In a deep saucepan set on medium heat, saute shallots in olive oil ( 2-3 T) until translucent—about 2 minutes. Stir in hazelnuts and sage leaves and saute a couple of minutes longer. Add diced pear, and gently stir. The pear will break down slightly, and get coated with the shallot-hazelnut mixture.

When the sprouts are roasted, remove from the oven and add to the saucepan. Stir in, combining all the elements well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Serves 6-8



2 lbs. small Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 bunch Harukei Turnips
several sprigs Fresh Thyme
Olive Oil

Because these yukons were small, I was able to roast the turnips and potatoes together. But it is also fine to roast them on separate sheet pans, and then combine, post-roast.

Place turnips and potatoes on a sheet pan, and lightly coat them with olive oil. Season them with salt, black pepper, and the leaves from several sprigs of fresh thyme.

Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and roast for 40 minutes. Check on them, about half-way, shaking them in the pan, and rotating in the oven. Test for doneness.

Serves 8


Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

27 Responses to “The Sides Have It”
  1. Tracy Says:

    Those turnips and spuds are calling me. Have you ever mashed them together?

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    I haven’t, Tracy, and it would certainly work well. I can imagine them layered together in a creamy gratin, too.

  3. Three-Cookies Says:

    I have been avoiding sprouts, I think I will quite like the version you have presented.

  4. Kath Says:

    Now I LOVE sprouts, I would eat that whole dish all to myself. I love the addition of pear. Oh goodness Nancy, can I come for Thanksgiving?

  5. Magda Says:

    Hmmm, I’m not a huge fan of Brussels sprouts but I’m willing to give them another chance after seeing this recipe of yours Nancy :)

  6. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    I am with you- unless that turkey is deepfried and nice and crispy I am all for the sides- the stuffing, the veggies, the breads. Wow, i think my stomach just growled thinking about our thanksgiving feast. I know yours will be delicious- wish I was coming to your house that day! I hate that my hubby doesn’t like sprouts but by golly- I am pregnant and I just make this dish for me, myself and I this year! LOL!

  7. Barbara Says:

    You are so right! Everyone is searching for good sides! And brussel sprouts are way up there on the list. Love reading about a new way to serve them!

  8. Faith Says:

    I love switching up my sides too! Both of these dishes look wonderful — I love those little turnips in with the potatoes!

  9. gigi Says:

    the dishes were delicccccc!!!

  10. Fluffy Says:

    those sides are out of this world! I’d like ‘em on my turkey table!

  11. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    THESE sides have it.

  12. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    I do love sides, and these sure are special. Can’t wait to try the brussel sprouts with the pear. Inspired.

  13. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Iv only just started eating brussel sprouts (chicldhoord scarring lol) but these look amazing! Id even choose them over the tatties :) YUM!

  14. Teresa/ Says:

    Oh Nance these both look so yummy. I am sorry I missed last Third Thursday…I was down in Smyrna late working on Tammy Algood’s upcoming new cookbook….but you have hit on so many of my favorite flavors with the brussels sprouts, turnips, potatoes & pears. These dishes are both beautifully photographed and are making me really hungry for some good ole roots!

  15. Beth Says:

    I like mixing it up once in a while, too. Both of your dishes look terrific, but I really love the looks of those brussels sprouts!

  16. Emily Malloy @Cleanliness Says:

    Brussels Sprouts are my favorite. You have just taken my love to an entirely new level with this! Well done :)

  17. Mary Says:

    I’m betting that I would have to choose the sides if I were pressed to choose. I’m seeing brussels sprouts everywhere lately and I think I’m finally going to have to break down and try them again. Yours look delicious!

  18. Renee Says:

    I’m getting very excited for Thanksgiving!! Perhaps some new sides are in order…

  19. Christy Says:

    Oh my gosh, I love brussel sprouts!!!! :)
    It’s been so long since I’ve had them….awww, Thanksgiving is just so festive and flavorful for you guys yea;)

  20. Tammy Says:

    I adore harukei turnips and roasting them with potatoes is my standby potluck dish. Always easy to throw together in a pinch and always loved. I remember my mother once scolding me that I shouldn’t ever make brussel sprouts for company!

  21. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…you certainly know how to make sides feel exciting again…especially brussel sprouts.
    It has taken me a while to take a liking to them. So far the only way I’ve enjoyed then was with some balsamic, olive oil and parmesan…all roasted in the oven. Next time…I’ll grab the hazelnuts to go with them too ;o)
    I love that your post gave side dishes their respect back.

    Ciao for now,

  22. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, with all these yummie sides I do not need anything else…I love the idea of brussels sprouts with pear…I must try this.
    Hope you are having a nice week and thanks for this sides dishes :-)

  23. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Now I’m curious about these harukei turnips, they must be impressive if they win over the much beloved potatoes. I’m totally jazzed about the brussels sprouts dish, the combination is enticing and perfect for autumn. I would have never thought to add hazelnuts to brussels sprouts, but the shallot hazelnut mixture sounds so good!

  24. Sruthi @ Exercise, Food & Beyond Says:

    I absolutely love baby yukon potatoes, but have never tried harukei turnips. This looks so tempting, I will definitely give it a try.

  25. kankana Says:

    In my opinion roasted veggies taste good all the time and when it comes to potatoes and Brussels sprouts .. absolute fav :)

  26. Kristy Lynn @ Gastronomical Sovereignty Says:

    Good heavens! I love me some good brussel sprouts but these are just divine. My family is a little weird about how veggies are served up at Christmas but I’m gonna do my best to sway them to this.

  27. Nicole Says:

    I’m so glad I stopped by today. I’ve been fretting over the lack of time before Thanksgiving and I’ve only just started planning. Thanks for the inspiration.

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